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Thread: Harriswood Mansion, New York

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    Jokern's Avatar Mowbray of Nottingham
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    May 2011
    14th Century England

    Default Harriswood Mansion, New York

    Harriswood Mansion began construction in 1785 when Henry Harris moved to Albany, New York. Closely modeled after the plantation estates of Virginia, the mansion stands in stark contrast to the more rugged environment in Upper New York.

    Harris Family
    The Harris family does not sport a long and privileged history in America, yet it has within a generation risen to prominence and fame in New England thanks to its current head and founder - Henry Harris, Hero of Saratoga. The story of the family is the story of Henry Harris and owes its status and wealth to him.

    History of Henry Harris
    Early Life and Education, 1731-1775
    Born in Hampshire, England, in 1731 to Lloyd Harris, a customs officer in Portsmouth. His mother, Elizabeth Harris, was a housekeeper in the employ of the third Duke of Bolton which provided the young Henry with otherwise off-bounds opportunities for education and social advancement. Through his mother’s energetic networking, a young Horace Walpole was enlisted as Henry’s godfather. In 1746, Henry obtained a military commission with financial help from his parents and political support from the Duke of Bolton. He served in the War of the Austrian Succession before arriving in Nova Scotia in 1749 together with Edward Cornwallis. Cornwallis, the uncle of Charles Cornwallis, would become Harris’ mentor in his early years in the American colonies. Henry would meet his future wife Mary O'Connor, whom he married at St. Paul’s Church, Halifax, in 1754.

    Harris left Nova Scotia in 1754, selling his commission and purchasing a captaincy in one of the New York Independent Companies. With the outbreak of the French and Indian War, Harris served under General Braddock and accompanied the ill-fated Braddock Expedition in its attempt to cross to the Ohio Valley. During this time Harris would make acquaintances with several future leaders of the American Revolutionary War – among them Arthur Lionheart. Harris developed an interest in military administration, defense tactics and fortifications during his service, witnessing firsthand the importance of controlling the land to gain the strategic upper hand.

    In 1758, Harris first son was born, named Edward. The following year he was made brigade major and later major, but here the war ended and with it, Harris’ future prospects for advancement as he did not have the finances to purchase higher ranking commissions. Frustrated by the British class hierarchy, he sold his commission in 1769 and emigrated to North America. In 1772 he bought a modest plantation in Virginia with the help of his old acquaintance Richard Lionheart.

    Beginning of the American Revolutionary War, 1775-1776
    With the outbreak of war in 1775, Harris went to Richard Lionheart and offered his services, and was commissioned Brigadier General and Adjutant General of the Continental Army by Congress. As one of the few men with significant experience in military administration after his service in the British Army, Harris became invaluable for turning the fledgling Continental Army into a proper fighting force, creating a system of records and orders, and helped standardize regiments from the various colonies.

    In 1776 he was promoted to Major General and was given command of the Canadian Department after the invasion of Canada had ended in a crushing defeat in Quebec, after which the Northern Department and Canadian Department were merged into one, which Harris took command over. He spent the summer of 1776 reinforcing Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Crown Point, working together with Major General Benedict Arnold in building up a fleet at Lake Champlain that could halt the British from taking control of the lake and link up with their forces under General Howe in New York, thereby separating New England from the southern colonies.

    On October 9, 1776, the British fleet under General Carleton set sail from Saint-Jean with their fleet, which heavily outgunned the Americans under Benedict Arnold. While fighting bravely, the difference was too great and on October 11, the American fleet snuck past the British under the cover of night and fog and were able to make it to Fort Crown Point before their pursuers were able to catch up. With enough men and cannons on the fort, they were able to bombard the British fleet from shore and force them back. Though they were able to land their men further away and then lay siege to the fort, with the first snow falling on October 20, the battle-season getting late and with overstretched supply lines, General Carleton decided to withdraw back north to winter quarters.

    With the British unable to make an assault at Ticonderoga in 1776, Harris marched some of his men south to join Lionheart’s army in Pennsylvania. Here the two would have a falling out over strategy – Harris argued that the army should retreat further rather than risk an attack, which Lionheart summarily dismissed. Angered, Harris feigned illness and went to Baltimore and actively lobbied for Congress to replace Lionheart as commander-in-chief with himself, supported by several prominent delegates from New England. However, following Lionheart’s stunning victories at Trenton and Princeton left no doubt as to who the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army should be. Harris was subsequently ordered back north in February 1777.

    Saratoga Campaign, 1777
    The great career changer for Harris began in June 1777, with the beginning of what would become known as the Saratoga Campaign. General Burgoyne, replacing the disgraced Carleton, had assembled and army of some 8,000 Regulars, Loyalist militias, Native scouts and Hessian mercenaries at Fort Saint-Jean. Their aim was to march south and capture Albany in order to isolate the rebellious New England from the southern colonies where supposedly Loyalist elements could be rallied. On June 30, Burgoyne’s army landed at Fort Crown Point, laying siege to it. Though the small garrison would eventually surrender on July 4, the delay gave ample time to the 3,000 strong garrison at Fort Ticonderoga to prepare for the coming assault.

    The Siege of Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point
    The siege of Fort Ticonderoga began on July 5 with open skirmishes on the outer defense works. However, with the overwhelming difference in strength, the fort only being manned by barely 3,000 Regulars and militia, General St. Clair decided to withdraw to preserve his strength under the cover of night. The day after, British forces took control of the abandoned fort and immediately set off in pursuit. St. Clair’s army had at this point already crossed to Mount Independence and had made good headway down Hubbardton Road. The political and public outcry was massive, with papers lambasting both St. Clair and Harris for cowardly abandoning the “Gibraltar of the North” to the British. Quite a few ridiculed Harris when he had thought himself better suited for the position of commander-in-chief and calling for his immediate resignation, some even labeling him a double-crossing traitor and “a Red Coat in sheep’s clothing”.

    The Battle of Hubbardton
    On July 10, the British vanguard under General Simon Fraser would catch up with the American rear commanded by Seth Warner at Hubbardton while the main bulk of the American army marched on to Castleton. General Burgoyne and the rest of his army had this point reached Skenesboro. Fraser launched a surprise attack in the morning and was able to scatter a few elements of the American army. However, they quickly reformed into a defensive line and returned fire. Fraser then decided to send a detachment to outflank the American left at the risk of exposing his own left, hoping it would hold until reinforcements from Baron Riedesel’s Hessian units arrived. The Americans fell back to Monument Hill and were able to push back Fraser’s left, forcing the British back. They would then be reinforced by militia led by Henry Brockholst Livingston, around the same time that Riedesel and his Hessians arrived to support Fraser. However, by now the tides had turned in American favor and the British were forced to sound the retreat. The American rear guard quickly marched south and joined up with the main army, reaching Fort Edward on July 15. Burgoyne would later send Riedesel’s Hessian troops to occupy Castleton.

    Battle of Skenesboro and Fort Anne
    On July 10, Colonel Pierse Long’s force of 600 men, who had previously garrisoned the fort on Mount Independence, skirmished with Burgoyne’s vanguard at Skenesboro. Long’s men were eventually forced on the retreat to Fort Anne, though not before burning down most of the town behind them, where they met up with 400 militiamen sent by Harris from Fort Edward. A small force of 200 Red Coats under Lieutenant Colonel John Hill had landed just south of Skenesboro in an attempt to cut off Long’s retreat but would prove unsuccessful Hill continued his pursuit anyway and on the morning of July 11 reached Fort Edward. Long, seeing the outnumbered enemy, launched a counter-attack and tried to surround them. Hill’s force vigorously fought back in an orderly retreat, leaving behind supplies originally captured from the Americans. Wary of potential enemy reinforcements and soon to run out of ammunition, Long called off the attack. With later reports of a strong British force advancing south, Long decided to abandon and torch the fort, marching to Fort Edward.

    Butcher Burgoyne Raids
    The dispersed elements of Burgoyne’s army finally regroup at Skenesboro on July 14. Continuing southward, he encountered further delays while travelling the heavily wooded road between Skenesboro and Fort Edward, which General Harris’ forces had ruined by felling trees across it and destroying all bridges in the swampy terrain. Scorched earth tactics were also employed by the Americans, denying the British any available local provisions. Burgoyne was forced to build a road through the wilderness, which took about two weeks. Leaving Skenesboro on July 28, Burgoyne reached Fort Edward on August 2, only to find it abandoned. Harris led his men in retreat further south to Stillwater, New York. With increasing supply problems, Burgoyne decided to act on a suggestion by Baron Riedesel and sent out a regiment led by Colonel Baum on August 13 toward western Massachusetts and the New Hampshire Grants to seize draft animals and horses for the army.

    Further problems would soon crop up, though. The British army’s advance was always preceded by a wave of Native troops. With the lack of proper battle and loot, these allies became increasingly impatient and began raiding the local countryside and settlements, even Loyalist families. This had the effect of increasing local support to the Patriot cause. Burgoyne’s ineffective attempts to reel in these raids were smeared in the press and he was soon dubbed “Butcher Burgoyne” in American propaganda.

    Siege of Fort Stanwix
    British Brigadier General Barry St. Leger and the Iroquois leader Joseph Brant besieged Fort Stanwix on August 2. St. Leger's expedition was a diversion in support of General John Burgoyne's campaign to gain control of the Hudson River Valley to the east. One attempt at relief was thwarted early in the siege when a force of New York militia under Nicholas Herkimer was stopped in the August 6 Battle of Oriskany by a detachment of St. Leger's forces. While that battle did not involve the fort's garrison, some of its occupants sortied and raided the nearly empty Native and Loyalist camps, which was a blow to the morale of St. Leger's Native support. The siege was finally broken when American reinforcements under Benedict Arnold neared and Arnold used a ruse, with the assistance of Herkimer's relative Hon Yost Schuyler, to convince the besiegers that a much larger force was arriving. This misinformation, combined with the departure of Native fighters not interested in siege warfare and upset over their losses from the raids, led St. Leger to abandon the effort and retreat on August 22.

    Battle of Bennington
    On August 19, a 700 men strong British detachment under Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum, mainly composed of Hessian troops, had been sent out to raid Bennington in the disputed New Hampshire Grants area for horses, draft animals, provisions and other supplies. Believing it to be only lightly defended, the British were unaware that Major General John Stark and 1,500 militiamen were stationed there. Stark’s men would envelop Baum’s position, taking many prisoners and killing Baum. British reinforcements under Heinrich Breymann arrived as the Americans were mopping up, restarting the fighting. Breymann’s forces were soon driven off, though at the cost of heavy casualties for the Americans.

    The Beginning of the End
    Burgoyne took no responsibility for “Butcher Burgoyne Raids” and instead blamed his Native allies, gave them no credit and showed them no gratitude for their service, even after losing several of their number at Bennington. Langlade, La Corne and most of their troops left after this, leaving the British army with no protection against American rangers. He had at this point lost a significant portion of his army, some were casualties, and some were left behind as garrisons at the captured forts.

    American ranks would swell throughout the months of August and September with the arrival of militia companies, along with troops from Generals Lionheart and Morgan. This was mainly thanks to the Butcher Burgoyne Raids and the victories at Bennington and Fort Stanwix. Harris set up camp at Stillwater to rally local forces.

    At the beginning of September, Burgoyne learned of St. Leger’s failure to capture Stanwix and received news that General Howe would be unable to provide any support from New York City. His army, number about 7,000 strong, would soon need to reach defensible winter quarters, and the choice was between retreating back to Ticonderoga or advancing on Albany. He chose the latter, along with cutting communications to the north to avoid so to avoid the need to maintain heavily fortified outposts between his position and Ticonderoga. He also decided to cross the Hudson River while he was in a relatively strong position. The British army crossed the river just north of Saratoga between September 17 and 19. At the same time, Harris had moved his army, about 10,000 men at this point, north to just south of Saratoga and setting up defense works on September 4. Defensive lines were laid out from the river to the bluffs called the Bemis Heights.

    Battle of Saratoga
    In the morning of September 25, Burgoyne ordered the army to advance in three columns – Baron Riedesel’s Hessians on the left along the Hudson, bringing the main artillery and guarding supplies and the boats on the river; General James Inglis Hamilton led the center column to attack the undefended heights to the left of the American fortifications on Bemis Heights; General Simon Fraser with the left column trekking through the heavily wooded high ground north and west of the heights in order to turn the American left flank.

    At the same time, the Americans had also realized the importance of their left flank and the potential for a flanking maneuver, and Harris sent out a reconnaissance force led by Benedict Arnold and Daniel Morgan with his crack marksmen. He also sent a few scouts up along the Hudson river to look out for the expected main assault. Morgan’s men would set up position at Freeman’s Farm from where they saw the incoming British columns under Hamilton, where they employed their famed tactic of picking off enemy officers first before charging, unaware that they were facing the main bulk of the British army. Fraser’s column would soon arrive to attack the American lines, scattering them into the woods.

    Arnold would immediately send a request for reinforcements. Harris, having yet heard any news from his scouts about any advancing forces along the Hudson river, decided to gamble and sent several regiments with artillery to reinforce Arnold’s men. At the same time, Harris’ scouts encountered Riedesel’s forces, who had been delayed by broken bridges, and began to harass them while sending a request for reinforcements to keep the Hessians busy. Around 1 PM, there was a pause in the fighting as the lines formed up around Freeman’s Farm and reinforcements on both sides arrived. The battle alternated between intense fighting and breaks in the action. Morgan’s men had regrouped in the woods and continued to pick off British officers and artillerymen. At a crucial point in the battle, Burgoyne himself was wounded, hit in the arm by an American sharpshooter, and had to retreat from the field. The British center almost broke but were saved by the intervention of General Phillips’ regiment relieving them.

    At 3 PM, Baron Riedesel was well-aware of the sound of gunfire and cannon in the distance but was unable to send any relief due to skirmishes with American rangers, who were arriving in force with additional troops sent by Harris, without risking the vital supply train. The first phase of the battle would fall to the Americans. As more reinforcements arrived, they would eventually push back the center column and drive a wedge between Fraser’s and Hamilton’s columns. With Burgoyne off the field to direct his troops, darkness falling and with almost 700 casualties, the British found it prudent to retreat and regroup.

    When word of the enemy retreating, Harris immediately ordered Morgan to bring his sharpshooters to the right and do as much damage to the Hessian column as possible. At this point Riedesel was already marching north, but when his officers started dropping like flies, he was forced to abandon some of his supplies to make haste back to safe camp. The victory at Freeman’s Farm and the capture of a large piece of British supplies was a great boon to morale among the Americans. Harris, confident that the British were almost on their knees, decided to finally launch a counter attack. Scouts were sent out to watch and observe British movements, and in the morning of September 26, the rest of the American army followed. The center column was headed by Harris himself, the left by Benedict Arnold, while the right was led by General Benjamin Lincoln.

    Burgoyne, still recuperating from his bullet wound, had set up HQ at Sword’s Farm and placed his troops in defensive lines on the hills to his south. The loss of supplies took a tremendous toll on morale and troops had already begun to desert. Riedesel was lambasted for his ineptitude in protecting their supplies, after which the Hessian baron stormed out in a fury. A war council was held, and it was decided that they had to retreat to Fort Ticonderoga for winter quarters. However, gunfire was soon heard in the distance as their defenses skirmished with American rangers. The second phase of the battle at Sword’s Farm saw the Americans carefully probing British lines while Burgoyne’s officers rallied their troops to hold until they were ready to retreat. As the day drew to a close, Harris decided to withdraw for the time being. Burgoyne immediately ordered his army to retreat under the cover of darkness.

    As the withdrawal began north, the British were harassed along the way by American marksmen as Harris’ army raced after them. More and more British soldiers deserted, and by the time they reached Saratoga on September 30, only about 5,200 men remained.

    Surrender at Saratoga and Recapture of Ticonderoga
    By this point Burgoyne’s exhausted army had been trapped and surrounded in the town of Saratoga, outnumbered at least 2:1 and with more and more American militias arriving every day to reinforce Harris’ army. Negotiations had begun in the beginning of October and on October 8, General Burgoyne surrendered with full honors of war. Burgoyne gave his sword to Harris who immediately returned it as a sign of respect, while British troops surrendered their arms. The so-called “Convention of Saratoga” stipulated that the surrendered British troops would be granted safe passage to Boston from where they would sail back to Europe on parole that they never participate in the conflict again.

    Capitalizing on his recent hero status, Harris marched the Northern Army, now numbering 12,000 men, north on October 10 to undo the blemish on his record – the loss of Fort Ticonderoga. Reports of General Henry Clinton’s capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery forced him to split his force, sending 4,000 men under General Lincoln south to reinforce Albany. Reaching the outskirts of the fort on October 24. Burgoyne had left 900 men to defend Ticonderoga and another 400 at Fort Crown Point. Heavily outnumbered, the garrison surrendered on October 27, being promised safe passage to Canada. The “Gibraltar of the North” was once more in American hands.

    Harris’ War after Saratoga, 1778-1784
    Harris tried to maximize his political return on his string of victories while Arthur Lionheart was having no present successes with the main army. In fact, Harris insulted Lionheart by sending reports directly to Congress instead of to Lionheart, his commanding officer. At the behest of Harris’ friends and the delegates from New England, Congress named Harris to President of the Board of War, a post he filled while retaining his field command – an unprecedented conflict of interest. The post technically made Harris Lionheart’s civilian superior, conflicting with his lower military rank. At this time, some members of Congress briefly considered replacing Lionheat with Harris as commander-in-chief, supported by military officers also in disagreement with Lionheart’s leadership.

    Conway Cabal
    Lionheart learned of the campaign against him by Harris’ adjutant, James Wilkinson. In a letter to Harris, Wilkinson forwarded remarks of General Thomas Conway critical of Lionheart to General William Alexander, who passed them on to Lionheart. Harris, then unaware of Wilkinson's involvement, accused persons unknown of copying his mail and forwarded Conway's letter to the president of Congress, Henry Laurens. Lionheart’s supporters in Congress and the army rallied to his side, ending the “Conway Cabal”. Harris then apologized to Lionheart for his role in the affair, resigned from the Board of War, and took an assignment as commander of the Eastern Department in November 1778.

    Disaster at Camden and the Southern Theater
    In May 1780, news of the fall of Charleston, South Carolina and the capture of General Benjamin Lincoln’s southern army reached Congress. In desperate need of a distinguished general to deal with the threat to the south, it voted to place Harris in command of the Southern Department of the Continental Army in July. Harris set out almost immediately to capture the town of Camden against the advice of his officers, who remarked on the barren, inhospitable environment and the mostly Loyalist inhabitants. Eager to wash off the embarrassment of the Conway Cabal, Harris pushed on his army which was mostly comprised of inexperienced militia units.

    On August 16, the American army clashed with Cornwallis’ forces. Harris, seeing his troops outnumbering the British 2:1, became overconfident and pushed for a swift victory. However, his left flank manned by militias faced the British right, where traditionally the strongest units in the army were placed – the American left broke before even engaging the enemy in combat. The American right pushed forth valiantly but were soon hit in the rear by the British right flank. The killing blow when the infamous Tarleton’s Raiders charged into the rear of the Continental line, who finally broke and fled after just one hour of combat. 2,000 casualties, half of which were captured by the British, while the rest scattered spelled the end of the Continental Army in the South.

    Congress were horrified by this crushing defeat and Harris’ enemies smeared him, and he was barely able to avoid inquiries into the debacle thanks to his New Englander allies. However, Lionheart took this opportunity to replace Harris with Pierre Bellerose, his trusted confidant, in command of the Southern Department. Harris would keep his rank in the Continental Army but would have to serve under Bellerose for the rest of the war. The two would often come to blows, as Harris grew to despise his “superior” for being “Lionheart’s man” and for his French heritage. As the war turned in favor of the Americans in the South, so too did Harris’ reputation slowly rebuild.

    Life after the War, 1784-present
    Following the end of the war in 1784 and the disbandment of the Continental Army, Harris sold his Virginia estate in 1785 and moved to Albany, New York. He enjoyed strong support from the local population and from large parts of New England for his service during the Saratoga Campaign. He joined the Society of Cincinnati, the organization of former Continental Army officers, serving as its vice president.

    Having served in the army since a young age, Harris had initially little interest in the tumultuous politics of a country with no army. However, with the increasing influence of Arthur Lionheart, his disdain for his rival increased as well. The election of Lionheart to the presidency of the young nation was the last straw for the aging general, seeing the man he would grow to detest being lifted to ever greater heights.

    Family Tree

    Lloyd Harris (b. 1699, d. 1765) - married to Elizabeth Harris (née Woodkirk) (b. 1710, d. 1778)
    - Henry Horace Harris (b. 1731) - married to Mary Harris (née O'Connor) (b. 1734)

    Issue of Henry and Mary Harris
    - Edward Lloyd Harris (b. 1758) - married to Gloria Harris (née Berkeley) (b. 1766)
    - Richard Nathan Harris (b. 1760) - married to Harriet Harris (née MacCotter) (b. 1767)
    - Charlotte Harris (b. 1765)

    Issue of Edward Lloyd and Gloria Harris
    - Samuel Harris (b. 1778)
    - William Harris (b. 1785)

    Issue of Richard and Harriet Harris
    - Emily Harris (b. 1783)

    Family Members

    Henry Horace Harris

    Henry Harris in his Major General uniform, ca 1787

    Age: 58 (b. 1731)
    Spouse: Mary, née O'Connor (b. 1734)
    Occupation: Plantation owner, former Major General of the Continental Army
    +2 Infantry Command
    +1 Logistician
    +1 Personal Combat
    +2 Espionage

    Anglo-American: You are, like the majority of the new nation’s inhabitants, descended from English and likely (but not always) Protestant settlers, whether they came aboard the Mayflower in 1620 or were refugees from the English Civil War or came here peacefully in much more recent days. The English have a reputation as cunning traders and are also more likely to have enjoyed leadership positions of prominence in the years leading up to the American Revolution, as well as afterwards. +1 Infantry Command, Wealth or Charisma.

    Episcopalian: You are a member of the Episcopalian Church, the dominant religion of the elite in America. Once the Episcopalians were just Anglicans and accordingly recognized the King of Britain as the head of the church, but when the Revolution severed all ties to the British Crown, that obviously had to change. Episcopalians are known for being religiously moderate, broadly accepting of America’s other faiths and to embrace Enlightenment ideology, though protective (sometimes jealously so) of their ties to the nation’s elite.

    Idolized Philosopher
    Thomas Hobbes: In your younger years, the political philosopher you looked up to most was Thomas Hobbes. His belief that men would invariably live ‘poor, brutish and short’ lives and destroy one another if left to their natural devices and needed firm order in the form of a social contract in order to not engage in a chaotic ‘war of all against all’ rubbed off on you as a result, leaving you with conservative and ‘big state’ inclinations. +1 Espionage.

    Early Life
    Officer: Prior to entering politics, you secured a commission in the British (or if you’re still especially young, Continental) Army and took part in the mid-to-late 18th-century ‘cabinet wars’ between the Great Powers, from King George’s War to the French and Indian War, culminating in the American Revolution. You bring to the table your military experience and fame, or infamy, from your years at war. +1 Infantry, Cavalry, or Artillery Command.

    Role in the Revolution
    General Officer: You were a general officer in the Continental Army, likely far removed from the front lines. Instead your role was at the war table, planning out operations, measuring resources and wrangling with the Continental Congress and your fellow generals over the direction of the war. At most, on the field you were likely directing artillery fire from the rear. If the Infantry and Cavalry Officers were the arms of the Continental forces, you were one of its brain cells. +1 Artillery Command or Logistician.

    Role in the Confederation Period
    Planter: Following the Patriot victory in the Revolutionary War, the dissolution of the armed forces and the ascent of the Articles of Confederation, you retired to life on your country estate until the time came to get more involved in public life. As a planter, you would have been busy managing your estate - whether it was worked by slaves, free tenants, or a mix of both - and keeping up with other socialites in peacetime, which may have also involved getting into duels over honor. +1 Charisma or Personal Combat.

    Personal Buildings
    Plantation Tier I - Income of $4,000/year
    Last edited by Jokern; September 24, 2019 at 01:03 PM.

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